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Writing for services in Defence

Everyone using digital services needs content they can understand quickly and easily.

Follow GOV.UK style

In the Ministry of Defence, all digital services must use GOV.UK content principles and styles. This includes services for citizens and internal users.

The way content is written on GOV.UK has been tested with users and improved over many years.

The GOV.UK style includes:

  • short sentences
  • simple language
  • being consistent

Check the GOV.UK style guide

When you write content for digital services in Defence, check the GOV.UK style guide.

If you cannot find what you need, ask the content community for advice.

Use simple language

Do not use complex or long words when easy or short ones will do. For example, use ‘help’ instead of ‘assist’, and ‘about’ instead of ‘approximately’.

Simple language helps:

  • specialists that need to do complex tasks quickly
  • people whose first language is not English
  • anyone with cognitive impairments, including dyslexia

Find out how content designers help with accessibility.

Avoid acronyms

This can be difficult as there are over 24,000 acronyms and abbreviations in Defence.

Only include acronyms that most people are familiar with, for example VAT and NATO.

If you need to include an unfamiliar acronym, test it with your users. Remember to write it in full the first time you use it.

You can look up a MOD acronym or abbreviation.

Take care with military terms

Many military terms are agreed by NATO and used internationally.

If your service uses military terms, you must not change how military terms are written or described. In certain circumstances, changing a military term can be dangerous.

On MODNET, search for Defence terminology.

You can also contact the Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre.

When to write in capitals

In Defence, you need to use capital letters for:

  • operation names, for example Operation YELLOWHAMMER
  • ships in the Royal Navy, for example HMS WILDFIRE
  • military exercises, for example Exercise COBRA WARRIOR
  • security classifications, for example OFFICIAL and SECRET

Sometimes, you need to use capital letters for:

  • project or programme names, like Project MORPHEUS
  • short military unit names, like 2 RIFLES

Words written in all capitals can be hard to read. If you are unsure about the need for all capitals, check with a stakeholder.

Updated April 2023

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